York to consider removing two AQMAs

A six-year trend in air pollution reduction means that two of York’s three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) could be withdrawn in the next two years, the city council has said.

Falling concentrations of nitrogen dioxide has been identified in the two areas in City of York council’s annual air quality status report which is being presented to the executive on 7 August for a decision-making session.

York has reported its latest progress in addressing air pollution

The report shows that the Salisbury Terrace AQMA has had nitrogen dioxide concentrations consistently below the level thought to affect health for the last four years, so the AQMA for this area is recommended to be revoked.

The Fulford Road AQMA has been showing that, while average levels of pollutants are continuing to fall across the whole area, one location continues to show higher than permitted levels. Should another year of monitoring levels indicate a continued decline, that AQMA may be recommended to be reduced or revoked in 12 months time, the council has said.

Coppergate

Increased concentrations of NO2 monitored on Coppergate could mean that, depending on monitoring data submitted early in 2018, the boundary of the city centre AQMA boundary may need to be amended. However changes in traffic restrictions and buses on this route may be responsible for the change in concentrations.

York has enacted a number of policies through its Low Emission Strategy aimed at reducing emissions. This includes conversion of taxis from diesel to electric hybrids through an incentive scheme a new licensing policy specifying minimum emission standards for new or replacement taxis

Other policies include encouraging residents to walk, cycle and use public transport to beat congestion and pollution and the introduction of electric buses on two Park&Ride routes with a third to be delivered via a new Park & Ride contract.

The council has also overseen the retrofit for an electric double-decker sightseeing bus with plans to convert a further five diesel buses to full electric drive.

Charging

The council is also implementing a ‘pay as you go’ fast charge public electric vehicle recharging network in addition to 11 publicly accessible rapid chargers across the city. 1,500 charges – including those made by electric buses – are currently made each month and are rising on a monthly basis, City of York says.

The authority is also looking into plans to develop a bespoke Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and to    introduce anti-idling measures via signage and a new anti-idling enforcement policy.

Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the environment, said: “While our sustained work on combating air pollution has made a significant contribution to improving air quality in York, it’s important to recognise that much still needs to be done.

“Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts – especially in children and older people – including contributing to the onset of heart disease and cancer and we will continue to work with partners to further improve the air we all breathe in the city.”